As the holiday season rolls around – yes, Virginia, the
decorations are up – drones are expected to fly off the shelf as kids around
the world rev up their wish lists.
Toy/model drones are perfect for wee beginners; most are
inexpensive ($29 to $100) and are built to be durable while offering
easy-to-use-controls and stability.
If you’re looking for a drone your child can fly right out
of the box on a chilly Christmas morning, the Potensic Mini Drone for Kids is
ready for easy, indoor or backyard flight. At $43 (Amazon),
it won’t dent your holiday budget or your furniture since it sports blade
Potensic can be controlled by both smartphone and compact
controller. A flight app allows your child to finger-draw a route on the
viewscreen. When activated, the Potensic will follow the route regardless of
airframe orientation. One-button take off and land mode – as well as altitude
hold — gives the budding young pilot peace of mind as a beginner. Flight time
is only about 7 minutes, but re-charging is quick and easy.
At $119 (company
website), the Altair AA108 is a bit pricier but you get what you spend and
this model is built for durable flying. Recommended for children older than 13,
the AA108 offers 720p video resolution, flight-plan creation in the app, as
well as an automatic low-battery “return-to-pilot” landing mode (flight
time averages 10 minutes).
Headless and Altitude Hold modes guarantee the AA108 will
never plummet if accidentally flown out of range. Unlike most beginner drones,
the AA108 includes a second battery for impatient flyers.
As children progress to adult-level drones, chances are they’ll
eventually own a DJI – the Chinese manufacturer is the largest in the world.
Because the palm-sized Tello hovers on the border between child
and grownup drone, it’s a bargain at $99 since it coul soon become the family
drone, enjoyed by children AND mom and dad.
Kids will love the throw-and-go function – just toss the Tello
in the air to begin flight. The entire family will delight in the 8D aerial
stunt feature as well as its smartphone VR compatibility. At 13 minutes, Tello
boasts the longest flight time. With a 300-foot transmission distance, the drone
is perfect for a flight at your local park (check local rules first).
For young beginners, Tello has you covered with a collision
detection system and it hovers in place if you let go of the controller. Add in
Intel’s Movidius vision processing unit and DJI’s flight stabilization tech,
what’s not to love about this under-$100 drone?
For the youngest drone enthusiast, the Syma X5C (Amazon)
is the clear choice. Its $33 price tag removes the “boredom fatigue) – that feeling
you get when you fork out lots of money on a toy that Junior will discard in
boredom after a week.
In addition to flight stabilization and hover mode, the Syma
X5C includes a slow-go mode (it’s like training wheel for the youngest flyers).
As with the cheaper drones, you only get about 7 minutes of
flight time per charge but – once again – it’s $33.
Note: Many drone companies discontinue toy model drones often. Be aware your child’s new drone could be discontinued after purchase, leaving you with no support. The rule of thumb is that established companies like DJI are less likely to yank support. Happy Shopping!